Monthly Archives: May 2015

Twelve O’Clock High: A Movie for Memorial Day


We live in a military city, and so on Memorial Day we have many choices of services to attend at cemeteries, or parks, or mountain tops.  I always like to show an old war movie to my teenage daughters to help them appreciate why we remember those who have died in defense of our country.

Twelve O’Clock High (1949 NR), directed by Henry King, is the story of a tough general, General Savage (Gregory Peck), who takes over an American bomber unit based in England and tries to make them a success.


The movie takes place early in World War II, when the military was still trying to figure out how best to use the new B-17 bombers.  Flying into Germany at night, and at high altitude, caused the bombs to land inaccurately.  So, Gen. Savage is told to get the 21 airplanes and their crew of 10 men each to fly during the day, and to fly low, so that the bombs reach their target.  This most certainly will make their planes easier targets for German fighter planes and anti aircraft guns, and increases the risk of loss of life.


The movie is a bit odd.  It was released in 1949, just four years after the end of World War II.  From the movie poster tag line, “A Story of Twelve Men as Their Women Never Knew Them,” I think the intention was to reveal the peril that the crew in the air endured.  Also on the poster is a pretty nurse.  In the movie women are rarely seen, and only have a few inconsequential words to say (“More coffee, General?”).


The movie also starts unnecessarily in the present (1949) and spends too much time getting to the 1942 flashback.  And for a movie about a bomber squadron, the flight footage is saved until the very end.  That is because the director used actual footage, which must have been impressive to audiences at the time.  Still is.


Then, notice the twelve men mentioned in the poster.  The movie rarely uses close ups, and with everyone in uniform, or covered in flight gear, and everyone Caucasian, it is hard to tell the men apart.  Watch the movie with other people, so you can help each other keep the characters straight.

A more recent movie, Memphis Belle (1990), does a better job at conveying the life of a bomber squadron.  But where this movie succeeds is in showing General Savage’s commitment to winning the war – at all costs.

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Filed under Gregory Peck, Memorial Day, Movies, Twelve O'Clock High

Little Boy: Big Surprise for a Little Movie


Little Boy (2015 PG-13), directed by Alejandro Monteverde, tells the story of a small boy in a California town who believes that with enough faith, and actions to build that faith, he can bring his dad home safely from World War II.

The big surprise in this movie is how many types of people will enjoy it!


  • Star watchers.    Many of the actors, hidden under 1940’s hair and wardrobe, are well known.  My teenage daughter and I kept nudging each other and whispering, “That’s the guy from that Monk show,” and “Isn’t that the mother from that other WWII movie?”


  • History buffs.  The entire movie looks and feels authentic for the period.  And those of you who know history will feel really smart for figuring some things out in advance.


  • Children.  The little boy (Jakob Salvati) is very close to his loving father, who imagines stories in which they are the heros.  There are town bullies that pick on Little Boy, and we see his father captured during fighting, so you will have to decide for yourself if the PG-13 rating means your child should wait to see it.


  • Teens.  The older brother is played by David Henrie, famous for his starring role in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place.  In the long running TV show, he plays the geeky big brother.  In this movie, he is the big brother who has to keep the family business running while his dad is gone.  He shows an intense range of emotions, and is a quality actor.


  • Church people.  Little Boy hears in church that if he has faith like a mustard seed, he can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).  Father Oliver (Tom Wilkinson) discusses this pracitality with him, and suggests he complete a list of good works to ‘strengthen’ his faith.  Father Oliver handles Little Boy’s tricky questions with honesty and shows how Christians grapple with God’s will.


  • Schools.  One of the things on Father Oliver’s list for Little Boy is to befriend the only Japanese man (Cary-Hirojuki Tagawa) in town.  The movie does not shy away from the unpleasant way the government treated Japanese living in America during World War II.  This movie has humor and drama and conflict and action, and would be a terrific classroom movie.

Check out these other articles about the movie, and then watch it yourself.  It’s a good movie for everyone!

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B. B. King and Robert Downey Jr.


Here’s a scene from a forgotten gem of a movie, Heart and Souls (1993 PG-13).  Robert Downey Jr has to help a ghost of an aspiring opera singer who was too afraid to sing in public.  He has to do this before the green bus to heaven arrives.  I know, it sounds strange, but the movie is really fun!

At a concert, Downey gets the opera ghost to use his body to sing the national anthem before B. B. King takes the stage. No one expects the Star Spangled Banner, which makes the scene clever.

And B. B. King’s reaction is the best part of all!

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Cinderella: It’s Fun to Dress Bad


We all rave about Cinderella’s blue ball gown.  And it’s no wonder!  It seems to simply float!

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But I am also interested in the costumes the bad girls wear.

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Every gown the evil step-mother wears is green.  Is the costume designer trying to show us that she is jealous of Cinderella?


All her dresses are full of hard angles and make sharp shadows.

This reminds me of movie stars of the 1940’s.  Do you know these Hollywood beauties?  (The ANSWER is below)


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It turns out that is also what the director was going for!

ANSWER:  The Hollywood actresses pictured, from top left, are Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford again, Lauren Bacall, Rosalind Russell, and Ann Blyth.

How many did you get right?

Interview with Costume Designer Sandy Powell

Dress Old Hollywood Glamour Today

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Filed under Cinderella, Movies